Life Before Computers

I was sixteen when I first saw a computer. Pretty much all it did was play poker. It was amusing, but poker is a lot more fun when you play with people. In 1988, we got our first home computer and life changed almost immediately.

Checking Hoaxes: While the number of hoaxes has climbed considerably with the internet, they weren’t unknown before. We just didn’t always know we were being gulled.

I remember one distinctly, and it has actually been around the ‘net a few times as well. A woman had found some dead kittens. She put them in a discarded shopping bag to take them home to bury them. Another woman snatched the bag and ran. When she looked inside, she fainted. An ambulance was duly called and the unconscious woman placed on the stretcher. The kind paramedic placed the shopping bag on her chest…

Finding Information: If you didn’t have the right books in your home library, before the internet you had to physically go to a real one. You had to know how to use the card catalog and the Dewey decimal system. Then, you had to check the book out and bring it back before its due date. Otherwise you had to pay a fine.

Family Time: We did more things as a family before the computer. We played games, watched television or listened to records. Our television choices were often limited to three channels, which tended to mean more games and records than TV.

Shopping: If you wanted or needed to buy something, you had to go to the store that sold it. If you wanted to research it first, you either went to the library…they had subscriptions to most magazines, or buy a Consumer Report that featured it.

Typing: I hated typing. Typing is far different from using a computer keyboard. When we made mistakes on a typewriter, we had to either erase them or use whiteout on them. The more of that the teacher saw, the lower your grade would be.

There are many benefits to having a computer and internet access, but there are also drawbacks. Not everything you read on-line is correct, not all hoaxes have been entered into the databases and there are many of us with vision problems caused by the computer.

I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have this device, but there must be some things. The generations before us didn’t have them, and I understand they felt they had a good life.

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